Ill. legislators consider budget despite governor's concerns

Friday, August 10, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois lawmakers tried to end months of gridlock over a new state budget by passing a spending plan over the governor's objections Thursday, but the effort bogged down amid differences between the House and Senate.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said the Senate made changes in the agreed budget. And Senate Democrats were preparing to vote on a new Chicago casino and a major construction program, which Madigan doesn't support.

Earlier Thursday, the House approved a budget that would offer a major spending increase for education and create about 1,100 new state jobs, while providing only small increases for most other programs.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich criticized the plan for leaving out his health-care proposal and construction money. He also argued that it isn't truly balanced, so schools would get less than promised.

"This budget has a long way to go before it's anything I could sign," the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

The House passed the budget 99-9. The vote came 70 days after the legislative session was supposed to end and nine days after the old state budget expired.

The Senate was supposed to vote later and then send the budget back to the House for final approval. But Madigan, D-Chicago, sent his members home for the night around 7:30, saying the Senate was changing the budget and hadn't told him why.

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